Six A380s for Asiana Airlines

Asiana Airlines, South Korea’s second-largest carrier, has placed a firm order for six Airbus A380s, which will help it take advantage of an expected boost in demand on transpacific routes.

According to an Asiana spokesman, the carrier has signed a contract with Airbus for the six A380s with the first two to come in 2014, followed by two in 2015 and two in 2017. The Star Alliance carrier has yet to make an engine selection, adds the spokesman, who was unable to say when a decision would be made.

Asiana’s spokesman concedes that Korean Air’s decision to order A380s, with the first five coming this year, may have been a factor in Asiana’s move. But he says a bigger reason for the decision was Asiana’s desire to capitalize on the projected increase in traffic that is set to occur between South Korea and the U.S., now that a free trade agreement between the two countries appears likely to come into effect.

The spokesman also says passenger traffic between the two countries is also expected to increase because it is now easier for Koreans to get visa-free entry to the U.S. But the spokesman declines to say which U.S. cities Asiana’s A380s will serve. He also says the carrier plans to operate the aircraft to Europe.

Another reason for the move is that Asiana wants to use the A380 to reinforce its position as a top-tier premium carrier, says the spokesman.

At this stage, Asiana plans to equip its A380s with 525 passenger seats in three classes: economy, business and first. The aircraft will be replacing some of the carrier’s Boeing 777-200ERs and its two Boeing 747-400 passenger aircraft.

The spokesman says one reason Asiana chose the A380 over the Boeing 747-8 is because the carrier already has an order for 30 Airbus A350s and there is some commonality in parts and equipment between the two aircraft types.


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